Worms are parasites found within the gut of your pet. Roundworms look like pieces of string, Tapeworms are long and flat with segments, which look like grains of rice and are mobile. They can occasionally be seen on the hair around the bottom. Worm eggs remain infective in the environment for years.
Heavy infestations can result in vomiting and severe diarrhoea and cause a loss of blood, weight and condition. Worms weaken the immune system, and by moving through major organs can cause other illnesses such as pneumonia. Whilst pets with less severe infestations may show no external signs, they are still a possible source of infection to others, including humans.
What can worms do to my family?
The greatest threat to human health is the eggs from the roundworm Toxocara. They may be picked up from the environment by children chewing dirty fingernails. Although serious consequences are rare, these worms can cause blindness, heart problems and epilepsy. Also the tapeworm Echinoccus can be fatal to humans if ingested.
How would my pet get worms?
Puppies and kittens may be born with worms or they may pick them up through their mother’s milk. Worm eggs are left behind on the ground when infected animals pass faeces, then picked up on the fur of the muzzle and paws. These eggs may then be swallowed while grooming. Pets that hunt can pick up worms by eating rats and mice. Some worms can get into the body through the skin. Tapeworms can be picked up when pets groom and swallow fleas that are infected with tapeworm eggs.
How can I control the problem?
There is no tablet or injection you can give a pet which will prevent worm infection. The best thing you can do is to kill any worms which may be present on a regular basis, so it is best to choose a wormer that suits your needs and your pet’s lifestyle.
To avoid worms reaching maturity and affecting your pet's health, and to reduce public health risks, you should worm your pet regularly. Worming every three months will reduce this risk, but ask one of our vets who will be able to evaluate your pet's health and your family's requirements and advise you on a specific worming routine for your pet.
There are a number of different forms available so even if administering medication is difficult, there will be a solution for you. Some are even available combined with flea preparations providing an all-in-one treatment!
We have found that some over-the-counter wormers simply lack the efficacy of the prescription wormers.
Annual worming treatment is included in our popular Pet Health Club.